Pinterest raises $150 million as it builds out ads business

Pinterest co-founders Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann.
Image: pinterest

Investors areyespinning their hopes on Pinterest’s continued success.

The scrapbook-like platform just raised $150 million from a group of existing backers at the same share price as its last funding round in 2015.

The cash infusion boosted the company’s worth from around $11 billion to $12.3 billion.

The move confirms speculation that the company plans to delay an inevitable IPO as it continues to build out its ads business.

Despite an aspirational ethos that easily lends itself to all sorts of marketing, Pinterest has mostly lagged when it comes to monetization. It only just started selling video ads last fall, and it only began offering ads at all in 2014.

The slow pace of ad product launches has reportedly frustrated some marketers who’d like to see the platform become more versatile. Still, analysts often cite Pinterest’s social search engine as a potential challenger to Google’s supremacy along with Amazon. And Pinterest has aimed to live up to that prediction, with a series of recent ad rollouts, including promoted posts and autoplay videos interspersed with search results.

All those new ad slots have apparently paid off. A spokesperson said revenue per search query has doubled since the beginning of the year.

But those changes are only the beginning of the company’s lofty dreams for its search engine. Eventually, Pinterest wants to be widely seen as the natural starring place for all visual searches on the web. In doing so, it’s trying to free its image from the “social network” pigeonhole “Pinterest is really about yourself and not broadcasting to friends,” its spokesperson told me.

Pinterest has also been bolstering the tech behind that search. Earlier this year, it rolled out a lens search feature that surfaces any posts resembling whatever you happen to be pointing your camera towards. Pinterest claims it’s the first time that’s been done.

The company’s said to be aiming for $500 million in revenue this yearup from $300 million last year. They also launched their first-ever out-of-home ad campaign on Tuesday with billboards in Times Square and across New York.

This story has been updated with information from Pinterest.

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